Movie Review: “Beauty and the Beast”
Beauty and the Beast
Belle (Emma Watson) is the most beautiful girl in her village, but she is also a local outcast due to her love for reading. Nonetheless, she is constantly chased by the most desired and most conceited man in town, Gaston (Luke Evans). Belle, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with him. Instead she dreams of having a more fulfilling life than the one that would be in store for her in this village, if she were to marry Gaston. However, she cannot leave her father, so remains in this village to be with him.
She finds solace in books. She dreams of a better life for herself, but is content with the one she has if it means she gets to be with her father. One day she discovers her father is missing, and when she goes looking for him, she finds a mysterious mansion. It seems abandoned at first, but it is inhabited by objects that have come to life, and is the home of her fathers captor, a hairy, menacing terrifying beast (Dan Stevens). She needs to get her father out, but she soon discovers that the Beast is more complex than she had initially thought.
The Pros & Cons
Beauty and the Beast (-6pts)
Emma Watson (+10pts)
Animate Objects and the Beast (-3pts)
Pro: Visuals (+10pts)
This movie was visually stunning. The visual effects, the wardrobe, the colorful set and the musical choreograph. All of this, together, made for a very visually pleasing film. This movie borrowed a lot from the original cartoon. Both the wardrobe and the set pieces were evidence of how well this movie (visually) balanced on the line between realism and fairy-tales. These elements respected the visual style of the cartoon while bringing everything to life in an impressive way. While I was not a fan of the look of the Beast or some of the objects (I will get into that later), I thought the visual effects in this movie were great.
This should not be a surprise, coming from the studio that gave us last year's The Jungle Book, but I also thought the dance numbers were impressive. I cannot imagine the effort that went into perfecting these scenes. A lot of the success of this movie relied on bringing these musical sequences to life (both musically and visually). In that respect, I thought that the filmmakers succeeded.
Con: Predictable (-6pts)
While I just gave praise to this movie for being visually similar to the original, I thought the story itself was too similar, which made it predictable. Now I understand the impossible situation that Disney had put themselves in. Some will hate their live-action movies if they are too different from the originals, and some others will hate on the movie if it is too similar. I think the major plot points should respect the original movies, but that everything in between can (and should) be altered at least a little. Otherwise the live-action movies just become lazy copies of animated classics.
Oddly, there were a couple of things that bothered me in this movie, but I was okay with in the original. This was probably due to the fact that cartoons are allowed to be a cheesy or ridiculous, whereas live-action stories (by definition) should be more realistic. I thought the Beast capturing the father felt random and unjustified. I also thought the switch between Belle hating and then caring for the Beast felt random and unjustified as well. These issues could have easily been fixed by the writers, but I got the impression that the filmmakers were afraid to stray even a little from the story that was told in the animated classic.
Pro: Music (+8pts)
The music in this movie was everything it needed to be. It had all of my favorite songs from the classic movie, and it was cool to see these familiar songs in a live-action setting. The filmmakers also did not rely on the classic and beloved songs in order to give a fun and decent movie. Instead the songs felt like fun, nostalgic bonuses, which was exactly what they needed to be. The story was very much the focus, but the songs were the fun and pleasantly nostalgic icing on the cake.
Con: Beauty and the Beast (-6pts)
As I previously stated, I did not think the turn from Belle hating the Beast to suddenly caring about him worked in this movie. It felt random and unjustified which resulted in me not caring about their growing relationship or their fate together. Their relationship together was a crucial element of this story, so the beginning of that relationship needed to feel natural. That, unfortunately, was not the case in this movie. Emma Watson was the only reason that this was not more of an issue for me. Her impressive and subtle performance saved the scene in which Belle's opinion of the Beast started to change. However, the story around her did not justify that turn.
Pro: Emma Watson (+10pts)
Emma Watson was perfect for this role, and she gave an impressive performance. This definitely would have been much worse without her, as her performance saved some otherwise random or ridiculous scenes. She also had to act with a mostly CGI supporting cast, but her performance made these CGI characters feel real and tangible. I thought she brought depth to the character that was not there in the original movie, and for a remake of such an iconic movie, that is no small thing.
Con: Animate Objects and the Beast (-3pts)
I remember my first thoughts when I saw what Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), Chip (Nathan Mack) and the Beast (Dan Stevens) would look like. I thought they looked weird in a bad way. I hoped it would be strictly an "out of context" opinion and that once I was in the movie and saw these characters in their environment, I would be okay with it. Having seen the movie, I can say that these characters looked weird at first, but I just kind of got used to it. I think their designs were weird choices made by the filmmakers and I do not think they worked. The only reason this did not hurt the movie much was because the movie went on long enough for me to get used to their appearance.
Grade: B+ (88pts)
This live-action telling of Beauty and the Beast was pretty good. It had great visual effects, colorful settings and costumes, entertaining music, and some strong performances. These all made for a fun movie, but it was lacking in originality. It was just too similar to the classic animated movie for my taste. By being so similar, it failed to correct certain plot issues that were forgivable in the cartoon. Unfortunately, it was not so easy to forgive those issues in this movie.
Then there was the look of the Beast and a few of the animate-inanimate objects. They looked a bit odd at first, but I luckily got used to it as the movie went on. Overall, Beauty and the Beast was a fun entertaining movie to experience. It could have been better, but Emma Watson and the great visuals made up for a lot of its issues. It was a movie that adults will enjoy it and kids will enjoy even more, as I do not think they will be bothered by any of the issues I listed here.